This Christmas has been a bit weird. Or maybe its just been different. Maybe like a pinecone wreath. I think it started with our Christmas tree. We just couldn't get it to stand up straight. We tried everything: sawing a new bottom, adjusting every screw multiple times, trimming branches, etc. Eventually we ended up tying a piece of burlap around it and nailing the burlap to the wall. It still leans quite badly. It does seem, however, that we've come full circle with our tree. The first year we were married and living in government housing (wall to wall linoleum and all) and we were given a branch for a tree by some friends. We got a stand (which it was too small to fit in) and ended up tying a shoe string around it and attaching it to the wall with thumb tacks. So we've upgraded to burlap and a nail but we really haven't come all that far five Christmases later. Then with school coming right up to the week before Christmas, working until a few days before, and then driving 18 hours to go visit family, and unreliable snow showings in Utah of all places...well its been weird. Last night Doug and I opened our gifts from each other because tonight we need to pack and prepare and tomorrow we hit the road. In the spirit of weird Christmas I got him 1. a tent that we tried to put together in our kitchen (it was a 2-3 person tent so it should've fit) but it ended up being able to house 9 or so very large humans and the kitchen sink - literally - so we decided to return it. :( 2. a book about screenwriting that he promptly opened and read a random page from in which it said something along the lines of how every screenwriter is divorced or has no family because you have to choose between them and if you are dedicated your family/wife gets the boot. I think I gave him a horrified look and he just set it down gently and moved on to the next gift. 3. a movie which we apparently already had on our fancy download hard drive storage device thingy that I obviously never use and he obviously does. 4. a sweater even though he said he didn't need any clothes because I think it looks good on him 5. lastly, two reese's peanut butter cups. He liked them and I'm pretty sure my most successful gift was a whopping 69 cents. haha ah well In the same spirit, he got me almost the exact same sweater as one that his grandparents got me that I asked for. We laughed and decided to make a toast and drink some sparking cider only to discover that we had used all but one of of our goblets for a dinner we had earlier that evening, so we ended up drinking out of the same glass and foregoing the toast. :) I guess some years just feel more Christmasy then others. My husband is a fabulous gift giver though - check out some of the things he got me! I LOVE them (and him). 1. A beautiful cakestand that I love (which goes perfectly with the white ceramic one I got for my birthday from some fabulous friends!)
2. This wonderful cookbook with tons of excellent crock pot recipes from Williams - Sonoma
3. These pants from Ann Taylor Loft (they actually have pants that fit people my size - crazy!) and they're called Scuba Pants, how fun is that?!
4. and some slippers!!! (I've been wearing some that my dad left at our house now for about three months and they are about 5 sizes too big)Great gifts, huh! So its been a weird Christmas but its still been great. This time of year can be so stressful but it also reminds me of how incredibly blessed I am to have such a wonderful family and fabulous friends. I'm especially grateful to be done with this past semester. Whew! I'm really hoping next semester isn't so bad. I'm trying to prepare for it now because I know that it will likely be harder. But it will be the last one so that is motivating in and of itself. I've had a number of questions on the hormone/birth control saga. I think I've finally come down from the roller coaster. Since its been so long since I 've had a regular cycle I've been pretty freaked out not knowing what a normal day count should be. Twice I've gotten myself all worked up that I could be pregnant because I had heartburn or was tired or for whatever reason, only to have a period the next day. So I guess my cycle is a bit longer than average and I can just chill out. (Also, sorry about all the period talk all the time - just telling it like it is). I waffle back and forth between thinking maybe I (or we) could be ready and we should just go for it and then I think about how inconvenient it will be and how I don't know about the timing and all of these other probably-minor-but-seemingly-large concerns. Then I think that if I have doubts then I must not be ready. Then I think thats dumb. Then I get tired of thinking about it and I get back to whatever I was doing. So yeah. Thats that I guess. Anyway, this post is becoming as weird and random as all of the things I've talked about so I should just stop. Hope all is well with everyone and if you're reading this, you're probably someone that I would wish a very Merry Christmas to and give you a big hug and tell you I love you (and if I was on top of it enough to do Christmas cards, I would've sent you one) So lets just pretend that I just did that. ok. good. love you people.
You remember how I start to question everything in my life when I'm super stressed at the end of the semester? Well why should this one be any different? I was softly offered a job last week, a really cool and impressive job working for the House of Representatives for the state of Utah. I thought about it a lot and prayed about it and ultimately turned it down. This is ironic in so many ways. For example, I love studying government and I am a firm believer that through it, you can have so much influence and power to effect change for good. But I was offered a chance to be part of it and I turned it down. I think I can have a bigger impact on the government in my job working with the government rather than for it. And in the meantime I will continue to turn down high profile jobs in order to do so. So I work my hardest in order to do well in school to study a subject about a system of which I am turning down the opportunity to be a more direct part in. This is ironic, right? The hardest thing about this time of the semester for me is the logic behind why I do what I'm doing. Why am I busting my a** to get this done? Its not going to result in a big raise or promotion and I'm turning down jobs that more directly apply the knowledge I'm gaining. Most concerning, is that it may even be somewhat detrimental to me because I make sacrifices everywhere to go to school. I make sacrifices to my marriage and my home and my church responsibilities and my work in order to go to school. And I get so stressed about the stupid assignments because it is the busy work portion of the education that I'm trying to gain. I went back to school to gain more knowledge in the study of political science and public administration. I wanted to better understand how my government worked and why sometimes it doesn't. Its a pretty altruistic motive for going to school - which is sometimes the problem at crunch time. My desire to learn is not bettered by my having to write 35 pages in a week about foreclosures and quantity versus quality argumentation in the judicial process. I could tell you everything about it right now and make some pretty sound arguments. I could even quote many, many sources on the subject. And I can write. I can. You may not know it from this dang blog but I can write. So then what? My source of motivation is to be more educated and I make some pretty sound arguments as to why this isn't really enough during the end of the semester and all its hoops. And if you're thinking that experience is part of education, then I'm with you. I agree. But I've experienced this before. I've already earned a degree. I've already done the crunch thing before. I've jumped through these hoops and I can tell you that writing a 35 page paper is not necessarily indicative of being educated. More than not, its indicative of my being a pawn of the system. I'm reminded of this speech given by a young valedictorian. She writes:
I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer - not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition - a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position?
And that is precisely where I am at. Oh there are fruits of my labor already ripe for the picking. I do indeed have more knowledge about the public sector. I am a more sound thinker and have fine tuned my logic. I am moving toward the position and job I think I want at my work and likely would not have had that opportunity if I hadn't made it for myself through further education. The truth is I thought I needed the system much more than I did. I need that piece of paper to be taken seriously as an expert on government when I'm meeting with governmental clients for my work. But do I? I'm taken seriously now and I don't have that paper. I think one of the things that I'll take away from graduate school is a lesson I learned long ago from Good Will Hunting (see this scene). You don't necessarily need the system in order to be educated. And I knew that. I really did. There are some truly moronic people who graduate with multiple degrees who were not educated at all. But I've discovered something. I've discovered that I do not need the system. Of course I will still use it and graduate from it and write this stupid dumb long paper on dumbness. Perhaps I am a product of the system in this way. But I no longer think I will see it as a reflection of education - because I think I've done that on my own, and in many ways DESPITE the education system. I read ALL of the readings because I wanted to. I was never held accountable to them and I certainly didn't need to do so to pass my classes. My book reviews were formatted differently than the rest because I consciously decided that I would rather take a lower grade and have it formatted in a way that serves its utility than have a higher grade by doing it the way the teacher merely preferred. No, I became educated all on my own. Instead, I believe I will come to reflect upon this degree as the embodiment of determination. In no time at all I'll have an MA/MPA in will power and an education I cultivated by myself.
I love to give gifts. I think my dream job would either be to give gifts to people or to pet animals all day. I like my job but those jobs are fabulous. I'm just about done with my Christmas shopping I've done 99% of it online - I converted this year and I don't know if I'll ever go back. Being able to find the perfect gift at a better price than is available in stores, not having to deal with crowds or parking, and being able to listen to Christmas music and keep a smile on my face while I shop - YES I believe I will. Anyway, I'm really excited about some of the gifts I'm giving this year. I wish I could tell you all of them right now but I'm not sure who all reads this blog (probably just me but sometimes its nice to humor myself) and I don't want to spoil any gifts. I'll tell you two of them though because I know my little nephews don't read this blog. I am a big fan of children's books. I romantically believe that I will own tons of Caldecott and Newbery Award winning books someday so my future children will have a lovely library just for them (and who am I kidding, for me too - I love them). So I'm really excited about two of the books I got for my nephews. The first is The Robot Book for my little 2.5 year old nephew. It has moving parts and has a cute little message. It is also really well designed. The other one is The Incredible Book Eating Boy for my five year old nephew. I now want to own this one too. I should've bought two copies. Its such a great book. It has some GREAT pictures and I really really love the design of the book. Even my husband loved it and thought it was really clever. I think my nephew will love it. He loves books.
Do you love giving gifts? I love when I know I got the perfect gift for someone. So fun. We just got our tree today at lunch so after my husband's work Christmas Party I'm excited to get home and decorate it. Have a great weekend!
Its that time of year. You know, the time of year where I just want to stay in bed under blankets (like those above) and not face deadlines for school and work and end of the year social engagements that take time time time. I've got 16 days to get through then I'm pretty well home free. This week I have a final paper for school, 17 proposals and 9 projects for work, and a big event for the young women on Saturday for church. I'm not ready to think about next week because its much worse. But this week, I can do this. I feel like I just moan about how busy my life is on this blog repeatedly. Sorry about that. I lead a rich and very blessed life. I really really love my job. I love the company I work for. I love my boss. I really enjoy the study of political science and public administration and I'm excited about my thesis work. I love getting to work with the young women in our church and getting to head that program. I love the women I serve with in that position. I have fabulous and loyal friends. I am madly in love with my husband and I am more attracted to him every day. I love my home and my cat. I even love myself. I am pretty comfortable with who I am and who I am becoming and I think I even like that person.
I'm not saying all of this to brag. I'm saying this to remind myself that I have a fabulous life. I tend to focus on the stress that the blessings in my life cause me rather than the joy they create. But they do cause me happiness, otherwise I wouldn't keep them in my life. I strongly believe that if you really honestly get nothing out of something in your life, then you won't keep it in your life. I'm a strong rational choice theorist in that way. You do absolutely nothing that doesn't serve yourself in some way. This theory drives people crazy, especially when talking about service and self sacrificial activities. But the truth is, something drives you to do those things and, whatever it is, it is more important to you then the self sacrificial activity. For example, you may hate to speak to your mother but you do it because your desire to have a relationship is more important to you then the difficulties of speaking to her or the guilt of not speaking or whatever it may be. I don't believe its selfish either, our concern for self. When I think about God, I imagine that He would absolutely want us to want to better ourselves and be happy. I would want my children to be concerned for themselves. Why shouldn't He? Anyway, I'm preaching. This is all to say, I'm happy. Stressed. But happy. Don't those blankets look so cozy though?